Going to Slush for the first time? You gonna wanna read this.
The most hyped Finnish tech event is right around the corner. Qvik has been involved with Slush ever since we built the first official Slush App in 2013, and here are our tips on how to make most of the event.
Going to Slush is not rocket science, but if you’re going there for the first time, it’s nice to have some pro tips in advance – so that you’ll look like a smart big-league player who knows exactly what she/he is doing. Naturally, the first step is to download or update the Slush App, which makes finding information easy and helps you avoid the feeling that you’re just drifting around like a hobo.
There are some pitfalls you’re going to want to avoid. For instance, don’t leave the arena without your ticket. Think twice before putting on the wearables, especially the HMDs, since nobody has enough time to clean them well. They might be yucky.
Keep in mind that, during the Slush week, there’s a wide range of interesting Slush side events happening all around Helsinki, both official and unofficial. It’s probably a good idea to check them out and participate in the ones that interest you.
Slush just published a survival guide that’s 29 pages long. We settled on listing five random things that every Slush veteran knows and every Slush rookie should. Here they are!
Be smart with public transport
Trams are packed and late – trains work better. If you want to go by tram anyway, and would like to have a seat, start by going the wrong way to the end of the line, and you will get a seat. But every local train from Helsinki Central Station stops in Pasila, which is right next to the event, so it’s easier to take the train.
If you want to use public transport get to the city center after the afterparty, the least painful option is probably a bus from the Mäkelänkatu bus stop. But prepare yourself – it might feel like a long journey to travel from Pasila to the city center in the dark and cold night of Finnish November.
Take this into account when planning your schedule
You should aim to arrive at least half an hour before the talk you want to see, and you just might get there on time. In previous years, the coat check has been a bit of a bottleneck, though this year Slush assures it has made improvements and it should work better.
If there are talks you wish to see on different stages without any interval in between, chances are you’re not going to make it to all of them. Theoretically, it takes about 5 minutes to move from stage to stage, even in a crowd, but it’s likely that, on your way, you’ll meet tons of people you know from somewhere, and people are in a talkative mood, and the journey will take much longer. So we’d recommend choosing the talks that really interest you the most.
There are hundreds of talks at Slush, and the hyped descriptions are all written by marketing professionals. This means some of the talks will let you down, while others will be a positive surprise and just what you expected based on the description.
The audience might be more interesting than the talks
Slush talks are firstly about business and promotion. If you want to learn practical principles or techniques, be brave and spend some time talking to interesting startups in the startup alley and such. Competitive differentiation is their lifeline, so they have faced interesting challenges and might share interesting insights if you ask.
Some Qvikies have been going to Slush for years without planning their schedule at all and maybe even without going to any of the talks – and that’s totally fine as well. So if you don’t feel like planning your Slush in advance, don’t.
Use the toilets like a pro
Slush is one of the rare places where men also have to stand in line to go to the bathroom, so queuing and going to the toilet are huge topics there. Don’t make an amateur mistake and use the most crowded toilets closest to the biggest action. There are less crowded bathrooms at the back and sides. Check the map.
This year, a feature that shows average queue times for toilets has been added to the app, and the data should be available for Slush App users.
Save some energy for the afterparty
Many think that the Slush afterparty is actually the best thing about the event. This is why it’s wise to keep hydrated, remember to eat, and wear comfortable shoes in order to have enough energy to party hard on Friday evening. At Slush, there is free coffee and water available all the time, but bring your own water bottle. There’s free booze as well, but not all the time everywhere.
This year, the Slush team has made it clear that they have zero tolerance for any kind of harassment, and they have been working hard to take practical steps to fight the harassment issue. They have a clear code of conduct, more security personnel and clear ways to deal with abuse. So that’s great – everyone can have a good time!
Our advice is, don’t bring anything too valuable to the afterparty. You might end up partying and twerking so hard that your stuff is all over the place.
Enjoy the moment
One common mistake is to get too caught up with the “Slush hype” and build excessive expectations for the event and it’s talks. If you think you will be spiritually and professionally reborn and a millionaire by the end of the closing party, you will be disappointed. Instead, if you go there with an open mind and ready to make most of it, chances are you’re going to have a good time.